Once upon a time, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was so center stage in MLB's marketing efforts that it turned casual fans off of following national broadcasts. But how could the league avoided it? During 2003 and 2004, there was nothing like Yanks-Sox. The rosters were roughly equal. The history tilted towards the Yankees' side so spectacularly that animosity reached a boiling point. Anything could happen on any given night or in a short series -- and, based on the way 2004 wrapped, anything did happen.
Since that rivalry's heyday, though, the intensity has dissipated. The Sox are no longer lovable underdogs; they have four World Series and cheating allegations of their own. The Yankees are no longer the sport's dominant force; their trophy case hasn't been touched since 2009.
That "dominant force" these days? That'd be the Dodgers, NL West Champions for nine of the past 10 years, 2020 World Series winners, and the gold standard for drafting and developing (and, yes, adding stars when the opportunity arises).
Nipping on their heels aggressively while flexing their muscles to end a massive World Series drought -- which, in this case, has lasted as long as the franchise has existed? The San Diego Padres, who aren't stopping at Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts.
Sound familiar? According to former Sox and current Padres broadcaster Don Orsillo, the Padres and Dodgers are on the verge of becoming what New York and Boston used to be. Consider the intensity transferred cross-country.
Former Red Sox voice Don Orsillo: Dodgers vs. Padres rivalry is the new Yankees vs. Red Sox
"(Padres-Dodgers) has turned into, for me in my background, Red Sox-Yankees because the games are all four hours and they’re intense. The problem last year in the regular season was it was very one-sided. The Dodgers won 15 of the 19 … but as we know those games don’t mean anything, it’s the postseason, and the Padres were able to win the NLDS."- Don Orsillo
This budding rivalry might've received the one thing it was missing when the Padres finished off their shocking NLDS upset last fall.
Sure, the four-hour games were often intense, but the Dodgers nearly carried an .800 winning percentage through the 2022 season. The outcome was beginning to feel predetermined ... until the Padres rallied in three consecutive playoff games and did the near-impossible, capping a Dodgers deflation with a comeback home win in the rain.
Add in high-dollar bets on Machado, Bogaerts, and Darvish long-term, interest in a Juan Soto extension, and a potential 2023-24 offseason battle between the Dodgers and Padres over Shohei Ohtani, and this whole thing is starting to feel a lot like the pre-04 period when A-Rod could've joined either team.
Orsillo's voice calling the whole thing, too? Yeah. This is vintage Yankees-Sox. Somebody tell Sunday Night Baseball.